At the End of All Things

Don’t worry; this isn’t an announcement of the blog coming to an end or anything, no matter how dramatic the title of this article sounds. It’s just an analysis of the latest AleP contract that I have been playing around with. This contract was released alongside The Nine Are Abroad scenario pack released during Con of the Rings 2022 and offers players a chance to make a solid 2-hero deck. It does this in some interesting ways that can cause you to have an amazing turn halfway through the game, but the deck will slowly burn out if you are not careful. The contract is also very thematic, so it is definitely worth taking a look at if you want to play a pair of heroes that work well together!

The contract is two-sided, with a restriction that the players cannot turn over the contract within the first three turns of the game. This ability to flip over the contract whenever you want to (after those initial turns) is quite unique, as most other contracts either flip by themselves (Fellowship) or are flipped at the start of the game (Burgler’s Turn). So you get to time this contract yourself, which is pretty important, as the front and back have different abilities that you might want time just right in order to get the most use out of this contract.

For building your deck with this contract, it restricts you to selecting only two starter heroes. Where most decks allow for three, you now only get to pick two. To make up for this, an imaginary third hero is added by increasing all stats on the two starter heroes by +1. In return, each hero gains +4 threat cost to balance things out. This means that your initial threat will be on par with most three-hero decks, but you have sacrificed a third of your action advantage. Since your heroes will get the buffs on all their stats, it is usually best to pick two heroes that can make use of all those stats. The hitpoints are a given, but you don’t want a hero like Beregond, who will only really benefit from the +1 defence from the contract. Pick some heroes that can make use of several stats, either because of a balanced stat line or by having built-in readying abilities. Utility heroes like Beravor are also not as useful here since you will either have to invest a lot in readying her or accept that you are not going to be drawing a lot of cards with that ability with this deck.

Over to some good news, each hero gains the sphere icon of the other one, meaning that you will always have the ability to play 2-cost cards from any sphere your heroes start out with. This saves you from having to pack A Good Harvest or the sphere-granting Song cards. It also allows some heroes to get easier access to specific attachments that you otherwise would need a sphere match for. Consider a Silver Circlet on a Leadership quester like Aragorn or a Spear of the Citadel on a Spirit defender like Dain Ironfoot. These are not printed sphere icons, so not everything works, but it does help a lot with paying for the cards in your deck.

Speaking of paying for stuff, you are going to be strapped for cash in the early game. Your two starter heroes are not allowed to gain resources through attachment card effects like Steward of Gondor or Resourceful. This only counts for attachments, though, so allies like Envoy of Pelargir or events like Captain’s Wisdom can still work to give you some extra cash. Since this restriction will also appear on the B-side of the contract, you can just leave those resource-granting cards in the binder for now.

Another restriction comes in the form of the ability to heal. You don’t get to heal your two starting heroes at all while the contract is on its A-side. You do get to heal any allies you play, and the additional hitpoint on your starting heroes will help to keep them alive until you flip the contract. You can also use this time to set up some healers to take away any damage as soon as you flip, but you will have to wait a little before that time. This symbolizes how your two heroes are really on their own and have to fight to stay alive until support arrives.

But at least they have each other! The important action on this side of the contract allows you to exhaust the contract to deal a damage to one of your starting heroes. In return, you may ready the other hero, giving you some action advantage in exchange for damage. This is nice, and you can trigger it during any action window, but keep in mind that the damage cannot be healed, so you will eventually run out of hitpoints. You also don’t get to deal the damage to a random hero and select which one you ready. It has to be the other hero, even if they are already beaten up from treacheries or enemy attacks. This is important because it can mean that you might not be able to ready your attacker if it means dealing damage to your defender, who has already taken some hits. Still, this ability allows you to get some action advantage to make use of your hero’s improved stats until you find some other means of readying.

The other action on the A-side of the contract allows you to flip over the contract whenever you want to. This is not allowed during the first three turns of the game, but once turn 4 arrives, you are welcome to flip it over. Usually, you do flip on turn 4, but you can also stall if you want to enjoy the readying action a little longer. You can also wait and see what the scenario brings before you flip so that you can find the cards from your deck that you might need. Keep in mind that flipping over to side B will cause you to lose the readying action, so you might want to use that one last time before flipping to the other side.

Side B has some of the same text as side A to maintain the buffs on your starting heroes. They keep their +1 to all stats and +4 to their starting threat cost. This is important in case you have a Lore Aragorn on the table and would want to lower your threat. You lower it to the cost of the two heroes combined plus the 8 threat of the contract. The heroes also maintain their sphere match, and they can still not gain resources from attachment card effects. The notable thing missing from this list is that the heroes could not be healed on the A-side of the contract. That is now gone, and you are free to heal them however you like.

The big thing here is the Forced effect that triggers when you flip to this side of the contract. Both of your starting heroes gain 3 resources, and you get to search your entire deck for 2 cards of your choice and add them to your hand. This acts like a double Gather Information, though only for you and not any other players at the table. The resources are most welcome since you likely have been struggling to afford more expensive cards due to you only having 2 starting heroes and no way to gain resources through attachments. With both heroes sharing their respective spheres, you basically got 6 resources to spend in any way you like. Enough to straight-up play Brok Ironfist from your hand, though I will note that there are better alternatives…

Those alternatives will be easy to find since you are allowed to search your entire deck for two cards and will likely have to funds to play them immediately. This can cover any weaknesses your deck might have up to this point. If you haven’t been too lucky drawing some major combo pieces to make your deck work, you are now able to find them and play them on the same turn. Popular picks aside from such combo pieces are readying attachments like Unexpected Courage, big allies that allow you to bring some more stats to your boardstate, and healing cards now that you are able to heal your heroes.

With that big burst of resources and cards (reminding me a bit of Justice Shall Be Done but without the instant loss at the end of the round), you should be set to handle the second half of the scenario. However, this is where the contract stops being helpful, as you are now required to see the game through to the end on your own strength. The contract will provide no additional bonus anymore to you aside from the buffs on your heroes that you started with. Combine this with being down a hero and your inability to gain resources through attachments, and you are likely on a downhill trend if you do not find a way to gain resources in another way. The longer some quests are, the more you will feel the negative impact of this contract, which is something to keep in mind.


There’s a lot to like about the contract, starting with the theme of two heroes starting the scenario on their own and needing to survive for a few turns depending on each other. You are able to play some allies, but the 2 resources each round mean that you might not be able to play many powerful ones. Once turn 3 is over, you are able to let your deck shine and catch up to the rest of the players at the table, having an amazing turn and getting most combo pieces required out on the table. This contract makes for quite a reliable deck if you get past turn 3 since multi-card combos will be almost guaranteed once you flip the contract.

The boosts to your heroes and the ability to ready them on the A-side of the contract can make you less reliant on attachments at the beginning of the game. Ranged heroes will really benefit from the +1 attack, and defenders will love both the hitpoint and defence buff. Questing is perhaps a bit more difficult with just two heroes, but depending on the quest, you will be able to quest with one hero and ready them later.

Having just two heroes also allows you to always have access to Strider’s ability to not have to exhaust to commit to a quest and Vanish from Sight to lower your threat to 20 for a phase. You might have to fight over Strider with any other player bringing a Grey Wanderer deck, but the attachment works really well with the contract, especially early on. Vanish from Sight is an event that is used less frequently but could allow you easy access to Secrecy cards or to avoid engaging enemies early. Even in the late game, this can be an emergency button to avoid certain engagements.


Sadly, the amazing feeling of turning over the contract comes with a few downsides as well. The lack of action advantage hurts, especially in the early game. Yes, you get the ability to ready a hero, but only once per round. You will need either built-in readying in your heroes (Boromir, Leadership Aragorn, Quickbeam) or a readying attachment in your opening hand (Unexpected Courage, Snowmane, Light of Valinor, etc.). The more readying you bring, the more use you can make of your improved stats, which allows you to have a lot of fun with your heroes. The lack of action advantage might also be felt in the inability to spam allies since you are restricted to two resources per round and have to ensure that your heroes are set up first. This can make the early game quite dangerous, as enough low-engagement cost enemies can engage you and force you to take undefended attacks. A deck like this is easily overwhelmed against the wrong quest.

Resources will be something you have to worry about with the deck. Having just 2 heroes and no way to gain resources from more reliable sources like Steward of Gondor and Resourceful is tricky. You will have to have a cheap deck to make sure you can play cards in the early game. Cost reduction is also a great tool to include in your deck, as characters like the Erebor Toymaker and ally Galadriel can reduce the cost of more expensive attachments while also providing (temporary) willpower. You will also have to devote a part of your deck to alternative ways to make resources. Events like Proud Hunters and Traffic From Dale work well, but also allies like Envoy of Pelargir and Zigil Miner. It can be fun to play around with these alternate sources of income, but make sure to include them in your deck. You can also try to use Sword-Thain on an ally in order to gain another hero (or use Thalion+Side-Quests) in order to gain more resources each round.

Archetypes that work well

This is not really a contract that is archetype-specific but looks more at your two starting heroes. The combination of two strong heroes that will be able to survive the first three rounds together is arguably more important than having them belong to a specific archetype. You will be looking for well-rounded stats on your starting heroes that will be improved by the contract and some built-in action advantage. You can, for instance, use both Elladan and Elrohir as your starting heroes to get their improved stats, but they also allow you to ready them at the cost of a resource. Getting those resources might require some attention in your deck, but at least your heroes should do well enough to get through the first three rounds of the game.

You will have to be more careful with bringing certain other archetypes. Hobbits may end up dying too easily during the first three rounds if you are using the contract’s ability often and can’t get Bill the Pony out early. However, Hobbits do have access to some cheap readying effects with Fast Hitch and Elevenses. They also still have a low threat despite the +8 threat from the contract, allowing you to avoid some enemies. Other archetypes to be wary of are Gondor and Corsair (Na’asiyah) since they rely a lot on having resources in their pool to do certain effects. I’m not saying that it is impossible to pull off since Gondor has a few allies that can give heroes resources as well, but you might be better off with a regular deck in those cases.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the Istari trait. These heroes already have good stats, but they get even better from the start of the game when they work with the contract. The staffs can be used as cost reduction for certain cards, and Gandalf has access to Shadowfax for some quick readying on top of the Ranged and Sentinel keywords. You will risk having a starting threat that is pretty high, but your stats should make up for that. The fact that you also only have two heroes opens up the possibility for Vanish from Sight to act as if your threat is lower for a phase.

Aside from those examples, just go through your collection and see which two heroes you feel would work well together. There are enough combinations for you to try, and some weird combinations might actually prove to be very fun to play with. Some examples are given in the next segment.

Example decks

The contract is relatively new, so not a ton of different decks are out at the moment, but here are a few different pairings for you to experiment with.

With this, all we need is one more article for the Last Alliance contract, and all contracts will have been covered. I have personally not played around with that one yet, so if there is anyone who is a fan of the Last Alliance contract and would like to do an article like this one on it, you are more than welcome to reach out and write it! As for other AleP content, I have not yet played the quests enough to be able to make analyses on them but might be making a start on that in the future. Again, if there is anyone willing to write those articles because you really enjoy those quests, let me know. This offer extends to the AleP team in case they want to share some of their insights when discussing the quests.

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